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Verdantix Summit North America: Achieving HSE Excellence with Innovative Technologies

There is a growing emphasis on combining all necessary elements to achieve HSE excellence: the right people, process and relevant new technologies. This was especially evident at this year’s Verdantix Summit North America.

IsoMetrix was a proud sponsor the Verdantix Summit in North America. Held in Houston Texas, from May 21 to 23 2018. The summit focused on “Achieving HSE Excellence with Innovative Technologies”.

According to Verdantix, HSE leaders need to embrace new technologies in order to stay relevant. Key themes included:

  • How technology can empower both leaders and the wider workforce
  • Best practices when implementing global EHS and compliance software solutions
  • The proliferation of data analytics

Engaging and empowering frontline workers is seen as critical to help keep people safe. So too is having the right organizational framework in place. A greater number of organizations see the value of having centralized data systems and analytics to both predict and mitigate unwanted outcomes.

Best practices in HSE Technology

Day One’s keynote speaker was Jon Lessard, Senior Vice President – Health, Safety, Security & Environment at Stantec. Jon encouraged EHS professionals to have a future vision, to look not just at your IT requirements for the next three to five years, but also your needs 10 years from now. Jon suggested that rather than being a distraction, embracing innovations in technology and data will help you concentrate on your role as steward of environment and sustainability.

“Changing mindsets – moving EHS from Digital Follower to Digital Leader,” chaired by David Metcalfe, CEO at Verdantix was one of the liveliest panel discussions. It was commented that more companies are choosing to integrate digital and innovation type roles into EHS to break down the silos that often exist between IT and other functions. When it comes to leveraging technology for the benefit of EHS, advice from the panel was to “think big, start small, scale smart”.

Jasmine Omar, Director of EHS Digitalization & Governance at PepsiCo, shared her insights from her experience in successful global software implementations. She recommends that you:

  • Create a network of official and non-official advocates who champion technology
  • Integrate mobility from the start – it will help you attract and maintain talent
  • Go where you’re wanted – embrace quick wins
  • Stay positive – there may be setbacks with systems, remind yourself and others of the vision
  • Surround yourself with smart, creative people, and those with deep technical knowledge

The consensus from later panels was that technology alone is not a silver bullet. Others were quick to point out that this did not diminish its importance. Don Harris, Director – Environment, Health, and Safety at AT&T, put it directly – technology can help reduce incidents. “We learn from the companies we acquire.” Companies that grow through mergers and acquisitions see many systems. The smart companies leverage the best systems to get the best outcomes.

 

Another noteworthy presentation was that from Kam Bhangu, HSE Management System & Reporting Specialist – De Beers Canada. On stage with John Castner, Managing Director – IsoMetrix, they discussed the “Benefits and Challenges of a Unified Global EHS and Risk Management Solution.”

Like many companies in the room looking for a technology partner, DeBeers approached IsoMetrix with a clear vision. DeBeers were looking for a single action, risk and incident management system that they could roll out across the group of companies.

From the outset they outlined key success factors that were important to them such as flexibility and simplicity of design as well as powerful functionality that realized economies of scale. Kam emphasized that the clear vision contributed to the project’s success. So did the strong communication and skills between DeBeers and their chosen software partner, IsoMetrix. But this did not mean the global implementation was without its challenges.

Kam was very open, sharing the key challenges that were:

  • Managing a large stakeholder list
  • Scope creep was a risk
  • Resource & Planning
  • Communication to the operations and sites
  • Change Management.

Kam went on to elaborate that managing a large stakeholder list was both important and time intensive. Stakeholders at different divisions and regions each have their own needs to satisfy. Because of this, scope creep had to be managed.

It was important to consider the resource and planning required by all parties. When working with teams in different time zones, it’s important to schedule appropriate time and to maintain high levels of ongoing communication to the operations and sites. Finally, as with any project, it is also important to consider the people involved and engage the right people internally to ensure you can effectively manage change. This will help ensure the software is used to its potential.

The Summit closed with a highly engaging presentation from guest speaker, Dr Nigel Packham (Associate Director, Safety and Mission Assurance, NASA). Being part of a team responsible for implementation of the Governance Model (Technical Authority) for all Human Spaceflight Programs, Nigel has a wealth of experience and shared some fascinating insights into the realities of working with changing technologies. Nigel stressed that technology is constantly evolving and improving. Talking about the tragic Columbia Disaster and subsequent lessons learned, Nigel’s account served as a powerful reminder to the reason we’re all in EHS, and that’s to help keep people safe.

Conclusion

Events such as the Verdantix Summit are great opportunities to challenge your thinking; network with professionals who share the same challenges and find out about the latest technologies that can help you in your role.

If you would like to find out more about how IsoMetrix can help you achieve risk-centric HSE management, you can contact us here.